We all love to celebrate special occasions and for generations of Tauranga families their go-to venue has been Harbourside Restaurant.
Tucked beneath the railway bridge at the southern end of The Strand, this historic building offers unrivalled waterfront views and some of the best cuisine you’ll find anywhere in the Bay.
“Although we change our menu seasonally there are some favourites we dare not touch including our seafood chowder, Szechuan squid and Peking duck,” says owner Peter Ward.
As many ingredients as possible are sourced locally and the meat, fish and produce is as fresh as it comes.
Peter and his wife, Anita, took on the role of managers in 2007 and were lucky enough to purchase the business in 2011. The restaurant has been operating for nearly 40 years and has established itself as one of our region’s finest thanks to its outstanding location, service and delectable food.
“We were very proud to take it over but we’re also very respectful of the history that’s here. Our whole team works very hard to ensure we continue to be a top-end restaurant.”
In the 1930s the building was the original headquarters of Tauranga’s Yacht and Power Boat Club, and was subsequently used by the local rowing club. Dinner and dance evenings were frequently held so its conversion to a restaurant in the 1980s was a natural step.
“Even going back to the old days it was a popular venue. I’ve had customers celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary at Harbourside who said they held their engagement party on the same site when it was the yacht club. It’s got a real history in town which is fantastic.”
The restaurant’s ongoing success can also be attributed to the experience of their team. Peter and Anita’s son, Cameron, is head chef, and his wife, Nicole, is maître d’. Senior wait staff include Chris Hill, Vijay Shirke and Restaurant Manager Rosie Killeen who are all very well known around town.
“We have all worked together before at a couple of venues prior to Harbourside. We’re very lucky to have them; service is a great strength of ours and one of the key reasons why we have so much repeat business.”
That depth of experience allows Harbourside’s chefs to really showcase Bay of Plenty cuisine.
“Cam has a lot of local knowledge and has established good relationships with local suppliers. We buy and use local ingredients whenever we can. We have a summer and winter menu each year but we’re always on the lookout for special products and ingredients that we can create dishes around.”
Harbourside’s loyal customer base is another thing Peter is most grateful for, especially in the wake of Covid-19. Many customers contacted him during lockdown to offer their support and encouragement, with several buying vouchers to ensure the restaurant would remain viable and return.
“We are very lucky to have a supportive customer base, many of whom we consider good friends,” he says. “That’s part of the history of this place – it’s a special family restaurant for a lot of Tauranga families.”
Having successfully reopened post-lockdown with all 28 staff still employed, Harbourside’s mission remains the same – to serve top quality, locally-sourced food with professional, friendly, helpful service in one of the most stunning locations in Tauranga.
“I’ve always been a big supporter of Tauranga and I think the city will bounce back pretty well. It will be a bit tougher obviously but hopefully in the long term we’ll come out even stronger. I’m pretty confident it will be just like old times.”
Harbourside Waterfront Dining
Old Yacht Club Building, 150 The Strand, Tauranga